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Stock benchmarks post third week of gains

Stock benchmarks post third week of gains

Stocks ended moderately higher Friday as the post-correction rally rolled on amid signs U.S. companies will top low third-quarter earnings estimates and the growing belief the Federal Reserve will hold off on interest rate hikes until 2016. Each of the three major benchmarks climbed for a third straight week. The S&P 500 climbed 0.5% for the day, with the Dow Jones industrial average rising 0.4% — up 74 points — and the Nasdaq composite gaining 0.3%.New-York-Stock-Exchange

In earnings news, General Electric (GE) topped earnings estimates by 3 cents, although its revenues fell shy of analyst estimates. Shares of GE, which is a Dow component and a barometer of economic health at home and abroad, were up 3.4%. GE is the latest company in the S&P 500 to top analysts profit estimates, which were revised down dramatically heading into the earnings-reporting season. As of yesterday, analysts were forecasting third-quarter earnings to contract 4%, which is slightly better than the -4.2% projection back on Oct. 1, according to Thomson Reuters First Call. Nearly three out of four (74%) companies that have reported earnings so far have topped forecasts.

Wall Street is riding a big rally that kicked off at the start of October after the worst quarterly performance in four years for the broad market. The rally, which has pushed the S&P 500 up more than 8% from its August lows, has been driven largely by a weak September jobs report and some less-than-stellar economic data since then, weakness that has Wall Street betting that the Fed will hold off on rate hikes until the first quarter of 2016. Investors were also digesting economic news. The preliminary reading on October consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan came in stronger than expected at 92.1, its highest level since July and up sharply from September’s final reading of 87.2.

On the jobs front, job openings in August dipped to 5.37 million from 5.7 million in July, but were still deemed healthy by economists. Industrial production for September fell 0,2%, in line with the forecast of economists. The rebound rally has gone global. Shares in Asia and Europe were higher again Friday.


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